O2 arena celebrates 10th anniversary with impressive line-up
It has hosted more than six million visitors and almost one thousand events, and now Prague’s O2 arena is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Central Europe’s most modern multi-purpose arena opened its doors on 27 March 2004. “We have already started celebrating the anniversary with public skating events and a Saturday ‘open house’, as well as a Robbie Williams concert. But the anniversary is just part of our developing wider programme which is the main focus, so we are making it as attractive as possible,” says Richard Benýšek, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
He stresses that the goal is to achieve stability and financial self-sufficiency, including investments in asset renewal. Based on preliminary figures, last year’s earnings before tax, interest and depreciation were approximately CZK 70 million, with revenues in excess of CZK 400 million.
The first ice hockey league games played in the arena 10 years ago were two final matches between HC Slavia and Zlín, and world championship matches soon followed. Next year, the O2 arena will be hosting the world ice hockey championship, and is already gearing up for it. “In addition to the usual operating expenditure, we shall be making major investments in connection with the world ice hockey championship and the European athletics championship next year, in particular for refurbishment of the retractable seats and renewal of the lighting and PA systems,” says Richard Benýšek. He added that investments equalling the full operating profit for the year have been approved and are already being made. One of the major construction projects this year will be a remodelling of the skybox floor, which houses the premium seats, to accommodate a new VIP social area.
The O2 arena’s VIP area posted record-breaking occupancy rates. “We have sold the highest number of club seats in history; in fact we are almost sold out. We also see increased demand for our top premium product – the skybox,” adds Robert Schaffer, O2 arena manager.
Future development plans for the small arena are frequently discussed. “The organisers of both the European athletic championship and the world ice hockey championship will need the arena for their purposes even in its current unfinished state, which means that we cannot start work on completing it before mid-next year. There are various options for how this could be done, with one alternative being to offer an attractive venue for smaller events such as concerts for 3,000 people, trade fairs, and balls. Any project would require substantial investment,” Robert Schaffer adds.
This year, top events at the O2 arena include concerts by the legendary Bob Dylan, as well as Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue. The arena will welcome the Czech premiere of the Top Gear Live show in June, and the band Lucie will make its first appearance at the O2 arena. After initially planning one date at the venue, demand for tickets was so high that the band added two more dates and will now play three gigs in three days, a first for the O2 arena.